This is how it happens:
I’m reading this article in the New Yorker and it mentions this cellular phone that one can buy, unlocked (i.e., no twenty-three year contract), for $50. The author, Patricia Marx, describes this Motorola Motofone F3 as an antithesis to the iPhone — it doesn’t even have a color screen — and this intrigues me.
Suddenly I want one.
You see: my current cell phone is a hand-me-down (from my father) and functions as a replacement for my previous hand-me-down (from my co-worker) which, itself, was a replacement for my Palm Treo 700p which I sold on eBay. The original hand-me-down stopped charging and the one from my dear old dad has a tendency to shut itself off when it gets the slightest bit weary. I need a new phone but not a new contract.
I want the Motorola Motofone F3.
I want the phone with the white on black text sporting the sexy giant alarm-clock sized numerals that was designed for second and third world countries to be sold cheaply for the masses and includes voice prompts in different local language of the world.
Now it should be easy: the F3 is on sale at Amazon.com for $34.99 and I should buy the phone and be forever happy — but wait: I learn that the F3 is utilizing a GSM mobile phone network (as does, apparently, 82% of the phones in the world) but I have a contract with Verizon Wireless which, sadly, is one of the eight carriers in the United States that does not. They use CDMA. So the F3 won’t work on my contracted plan and I am reminded that I am not in the United Kingdom where people can switch phones as easily as they can unplug their SIM cards. Instead I’m in the United States, where I have to pay for text messages that I did not ask to receive and have no option to refuse.
But I am not dismayed yet. A CDMA version of the F3 appears to exist: the Motorolo Motofone F3c! Now this is the phone for me! That little added “c” makes all the difference to me! Quickly reviewing the specifics on Motorolo’s website I note:
The MOTOFONE F3c is expected to be available in Q4 of 2006. For more information regarding pricing and product availability in your region, please contact your local Motorola representative.
Now we are well into Q1 of 2008 so I search, and search, and search — employing all of my nefarious web grazing tactics — and find nothing.
Of course Verizon doesn’t offer it, but I don’t expect them to offer an affordable phone with no contract: that’s entirely out of character. The odd thing is that it’s not even available on eBay (where, the last time I checked, both my co-worker and my dad were for sale). The only references to the phone I can find are from sales reps in India and a Want It Now listing on eBay and, finally, a small note in the wikipedia entry for the device which states:
Although the F3c (CDMA) works on networks in the United States and Canada, Motorola specifically does not offer the phone in those two countries — it must be imported.
So thanks Motorola for making a neat phone and then not selling it to me; and thanks Verizon for choosing to back the CDMA network which gets poorer battery life and is incompatible with the rest of the world’s technology; and thanks to my family for being a part of the IN-Network in the first place; and thanks to my dad and co-worker for giving me their phones for free and then not backing them with any kind of warranty; and thanks to India for being so far away and writing in a funny language that I can’t understand; and thanks to whoever is in Aventura, FL that wants the same phone I do and thought to ask for it before I did; and thanks to my girlfriend who didn’t put a fresh container of rice milk in the fridge forcing me to have warm milk on my organic poser cheerios; and thanks to the internet for bringing me all this information that, in the end, brings me absolutely nothing at all.